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Russia battles Siberian wildfires

July 29, 2012 at 9:54 AM

MOSCOW, July 29 (UPI) -- Russian officials said they dispatched a fleet of aircraft to help battle a cluster of wildfires burning out of control in Siberia.

The Emergencies Ministry said 143 separate fires in the Siberian Federal District had blackened more than 56,834 acres of forest, mainly in the Tomsk Region.

The ministry added it had committed seven firefighting planes and four helicopters to the firefighting operation, which was aimed at keeping the fires away from populated areas, RIA Novosti reported Sunday.

"Over the past 24 hours, the effective measures by the Emergencies Ministry's firefighting teams, aviation and anti-fire technologies have helped prevent the spread of the wildfires," the ministry said in a written statement.

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